Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Monday, October 29, 2007

LCDC - The Cancer in Coeur d'Alene

If you are a cancer survivor or if a friend or family member has it, you have learned that cancer develops when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. Normal cells grow, divide, and die. Instead of dying, cancer cells continue to grow and form new abnormal cells. Cancer cells often travel to other body parts where they grow and replace normal tissue. If you understand that, you also understand how Coeur d’Alene’s urban renewal agency, the Lake City Development Corporation or LCDC, operates.

Thoughtful, managed growth and development in any community is useful. When growth and development occur in balance and harmony with the community’s normal social, economic, and political forces, the community is a good place to live. People will be able to afford to live, have careers, and participate in their community. Many businesses will thrive, others will even expand, and some will close. That is normal.

But if growth and development are allowed to occur too quickly or without proper oversight, if they are unduly influenced by unnatural forces, they can stealthily but quickly rage out of control. That is the malignant influence LCDC has on Coeur d’Alene.

LCDC’s proponents proclaim that in the 1980’s and early 1990’s Coeur d’Alene was dying and never would have amounted to anything if it had not been for the LCDC. That is speculation, nothing more.

It is fair to say that without the LCDC’s abuse of urban renewal, the city’s growth and development would have been manageable and more orderly. Being an attractive lakeside city with hard-working imaginative citizens, it would have become a prosperous Coeur d’Alene, not the urbanized “Seattle d’Alene” it is becoming thanks to the LCDC’s and City Council’s love fest with unchecked growth and blind acceptance of unending expensive studies by out-of-state consultants. Coeur d’Alene is morphing into “Seattle d’Alene” as a result of cancerous growth promoted by LCDC and the City Council.

Regardless of where you live, if you receive a Kootenai County property tax bill that includes countywide taxing districts, your tax bill is higher because of the LCDC. For 24 years from each LCDC district’s date of creation the LCDC gets the tax increment, the amount of tax increase above its base value, of every taxable property in the huge LCDC districts. That money goes to the LCDC’s bank account.

Think about it: The LCDC says that taxing districts (e.g., School District 271) still get the money they need. If the taxing districts itemized on your tax bill still get the same amount of money, where does LCDC’s money come from unless the county’s total property tax revenues increase? It comes from us – all Kootenai County property tax payers. Regardless of where we live, if we pay property taxes in Kootenai County, we are paying more property taxes to make up for the increment that goes to Coeur d’Alene’s urban renewal agency, the LCDC, but we have no say about how that money is spent. Think of LCDC as a hidden taxing district in which you have no vote.

Like the cancer it is, LCDC wants to operate and enlarge without being noticed. LCDC’s executive director has been traveling trying to export LCDC’s brand of urban renewal to other communities in and out of Kootenai County. If he succeeds, any additional urban renewal agencies formed in Kootenai County will be additional hidden taxing districts on your property tax bill. To make up for the tax increment being taken by an urban renewal agency, Kootenai County property tax payers will pay more. If those communities allow LCDC’s cancerous form of urban renewal to take root, their businesses, their people, and their governments will be forever changed just as Coeur d’Alene is being changed.

Why hasn’t Coeur d’Alene’s Mayor and City Council stepped in to regulate LCDC’s actions and expansions? Why are they encouraging the LCDC to infect other communities? Why has the LCDC used your tax dollars to hire two lobbyists to protect its interests (not the taxpayers’ interests) in Boise?

The answer to all those questions is greed and power. Money is not inherently evil, but the unchecked greedy pursuit of it is. Money can buy the election results the LCDC and City Council want in order to perpetuate a governmental enterprise that uses taxpayer money to enrich the already rich while keeping any hope of control out of the hands of honest taxpayers. LCDC used your tax money to hire lobbyists to ensure the Idaho legislature does not change the existing urban renewal law so it can no longer be abused by the LCDC.

Voters trusted Coeur d’Alene’s Mayor and City Council to properly learn and understand the complexities of urban renewal and then to regulate and control the LCDC as the law requires. The voter’s trust in them was misplaced. They have failed us. The beneficial cells of legitimate urban renewal have been allowed to grow unchecked and become the LCDC cancer in “Seattle d’Alene”. It is time for a change to restore honesty, integrity, and diligence in Coeur d’Alene City Hall.

For over a year now a growing number of citizens have been trying to help Kootenai County taxpayers better recognize and understand the LCDC cancer that is infecting us. Three honorable and dedicated citizens have decided to become candidates for Coeur d’Alene city council. They are Dan Gookin, Jim Brannon, and Susie Snedaker. These three courageous and honest residents know they will be attacked viciously and personally for their commitment to expose the profiteering being perpetrated by the Mayor, the City Council, and the LCDC in "Seattle d’Alene." They know their campaigns will be competing against incumbents and candidates who will be well-funded by business interests who will pay whatever is necessary to keep control of Coeur d'Alene City Hall. Dan Gookin, Jim Brannon, and Susie Snedaker know their opponents will support candidates who are running not with any hope of winning but for the express purpose of drawing votes away from the honest candidates. Still they are willing to step forward in hopes of slowing the cancerous corruption of city government in Coeur d’Alene.

Cancer survivors know the disease is sometimes incurable. Indeed, attempts to cure the disease can kill the patient or ruin his quality of life. That’s why diligent, attentive management is often the treatment of choice. So it is with urban renewal in Coeur d’Alene. Dan Gookin, Jim Brannon, and Susie Snedaker want to work with us in Kootenai County to manage urban renewal so it is used wisely and lawfully to achieve the beneficial results intended by the Idaho legislature. They want to stop its malignant abuse by the LCDC and their cronies so that taxpayer dollars are used for public good, not private enrichment. Regardless of where you live, if you pay Kootenai County property taxes, encourage your friends in Coeur d’Alene to vote for Dan Gookin for council seat #1, Jim Brannon for council seat #3, and Susan P. “Susie” Snedaker for council seat #5 on November 6, 2007. They want to preserve the character of Coeur d’Alene and Kootenai County.

Two of the candidates have websites. Go to www.dangookin.com and www.vote4susie.com to learn more about their candidacies.

To learn how you’re paying more in tax dollars because of the abusive and unsupervised LCDC, read Dan Gookin’s report The LCDC. It's the report you won't ever see on the Coeur d'Alene City website or the LCDC's website, because the Mayor, the City Council, and the LCDC don't want us to understand the LCDC's abuse of Idaho’s urban renewal law and how LCDC is misusing our tax dollars.

Remember, thanks to a willing and compliant Coeur d’Alene Mayor and City Council, the LCDC obligated county taxpayers for 24 years. In the name of enriching already rich developers, builders, and realtors, Coeur d’Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem and City Council members Dixie “Inside Connection” Reid, Al Hassell, Ron Edinger, Mike Kennedy, Woody McEvers, and Deanna Goodlander have made promises you, your children, and your grandchildren will be legally obligated to keep.

We, all Kootenai County taxpayers, have been attacked by the LCDC cancer, and to effectively manage it we must participate in our own treatment. Become an informed voter. The superficial appearance of health and prosperity in Coeur d’Alene conceals the malignancy that lurks beneath. Study Dan Gookin’s report. Pay attention to what your Mayor and City Council are doing. Don't assume all that looks good is good.

On November 6, vote for the three candidates who want to manage and control the cancer that is LCDC. Vote for Dan Gookin for Council seat #1, Jim Brannon for Council seat #3, and Susie Snedaker for Council seat #5.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Public Corruption Update - October 2007

Fall is upon us. The leaves are falling and thankfully so are corrupt public officials.

A former city councilman, painting contractor, a former police officer, and a former speaker of the house of the North Carolina House of Representatives are all on their way to federal prison for their criminal betrayal of the public trust. Read about these cases here in the Internal Revenue Service's FY 2007 Examples of Public Corruption Crime Investigations.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Interesting Bid Solicitations

No, "interesting bid solicitations" is not a self-contradictory phrase. I will, however, admit that just about anything is more interesting than reading federal bid solicitations.

However, the solicitations by the National Institute of Justice, National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technlology Center System, do reveal or at least hint at the types of technology law enforcement is gee-whizzing over. By clicking on the links below, the reader will be taken to the actual solicitation. There is sometimes a surprisingly interesting amount of useful technical information buried in the solicitation's bureaucratese.

Body Armor for Law Enforcement and Corrections

Research and Development in the Area of Controlled Substances Detection and Analysis

Biometric Technologies

Personal Protection Equipment

Electronic Crime and Digital Evidence Recovery

Information-Led Policing Research, Technology Developing, Testing and Evaluation

Research and Development in the Forensic Analysis of Fire and Arson Evidence

Geospatial Technology

Less Lethal Technologies

Sensors and Surveillance Technologies

Research and Development in Forensic Anthropology and Forensic Odontology

Forensic DNA Research and Development

Communications Technology

Monday, October 15, 2007

How Comcast Works With Law Enforcement

Like many public utility providers, Comcast Cable works with law enforcement agencies to help those agencies gain lawful access to information that is proprietary to Comcast or evidence of crime committed against the public or against Comcast.

Here is a link to Comcast Cable's 35-page Law Enforcement Handbook.

Most public utilities (telephone, gas, electric, water, etc.) have policies regulating how their employees may lawfully respond to law enforcement requests for assistance.

Friday, October 05, 2007

A New Strip Joint in Town?

In a story headlined Woman wants apology after court scans bra, Coeur d'Alene Press staff writer Marc Stewart recounted how a woman responding to instructions to appear in federal court in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, had been required to remove her underwire bra so it could be fluoroscoped. There were no women court security officers (CSO) available, nor was there a private changing room where she could remove the bra. Her options were to return to her car and remove it or find a public restroom somewhere outside the courthouse. No, there were no restrooms available in the public unscured area inside the courthouse. Needing to get where she was going in the courthouse, she and her husband complied as well as they could. Her husband spread his coat to do his best to shield her from the views of male CSOs and the public, and she removed the bra.

Now, before getting all cranked off about this, it is important to realize that the CSOs are essentially civilian contractors who have limited law enforcement/security authority and are supervised by the US Marshals Service (USMS). The USMS responsibilities for protecting the courts include, "Ensuring the safe conduct of judicial proceedings and protecting federal judges, jurors and other members of the judiciary..."

How well has the USMS fulfilled that responsibility? Not as well as hoped according to the US Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General.

According to a September 2007 report titled The United States Marshals Service Judicial Security Process, the USMS needs improvement in protective intelligence and the execution of protective operations.

So what is happening at "Chez Fed", Coeur d'Alene's newest strip joint? According to today's Coeur d'Alene Press article by Marc Stewart, the US courthouse in Coeur d'Alene still does not have any women CSO's, but it does now have "...a secure and private room to remove articles of clothing that need to be scanned by metal detectors". Presumably after the person has cleared the security checkpoint, s/he goes into a secured restroom and puts on the article of clothing that had been removed for fluoroscopic examination. And it is hoped that a CSO searches the secure and private room for any weapons or other contraband the person may have abandoned there.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Publication: A Military Guide to Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century

On August 15, 2007, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, TRADOC Intelligence Support Activity,-Threats, released its handbook titled A Military Guide to Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century.

The handbook is a primer on terrorism and includes
"...an overview of the history of terrorism, descriptions of terrorist behaviors and motivations, a review of terrorist group organizations, and the threat posed to our forces, both in the United States and overseas. Additionally, it provides information on the various terrorist groups, the terrorist planning cycle, operations and tactics, firearms used by terrorists, improvised explosive devices, conventional munitions used by terrorists, and a discussion on weapons of mass destruction." (Federation of American Scientists)
There are four supplements that accompany the handbook:

Supplement 1 — Terror Operations: Case Studies in Terrorism

Supplement 2 — Cyber Operations and Cyber Terrorism

Supplement 3 — Suicide Bombing in the COE

Supplement 4 — Terrorism and WMD in the Contemporary Operational Environment

Monday, October 01, 2007

Radio Remote Triggers for Improvised Explosive Devices

The US government's Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has issued a press release to explain "...why passengers may notice additional security measures related to remote control (toy) devices."

The press release notes:

While not associated with a specific threat at this time, TSA is aware that remote control toys can be used to initiate devices used in terrorist attacks. Accordingly, Transportation Security Officers have trained on this possibility and travelers may encounter additional screening when bringing remote control devices in carry-on baggage.
This press release is odd on several levels.

First, it only appears to address radio remotely controlled toys. Why? There are several radio frequency devices that are all suitable choices for the bomber.

Second, the press release implies that Officers have only been trained to somehow address the threat believed posed by remotely controlled toys. Why? The training should have included the broader range of suitable wireless devices.

Third, the press release does not tell passengers who may be carrying remotely controlled toys what to expect. Is the TSA going to seize the toys?

The possibility of encountering a radio remote trigger with an improvised explosive device poses a particular threat for security personel, hazardous devices responders, and the general population. The absence of sufficient information about the specific technology used in the device makes any aggressive countermeasure highly risky. Hopefuly the training TSA gave to its officers includes far more information than suggested by the press release.

Reading this press release leaves me waiting for the other shoe to drop.